Thoughts on The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck (Book #4)

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I am a serious sucker for John Steinbeck. I genuinely enjoyed The Grapes of Wrath as well as East of Eden despite their seemingly insurmountable lengths. Also, as I mentioned earlier in a post, I read The Wayward Bus recently as well. I am simply acknowledging my bias as a person who will probably like anything by John Steinbeck.  Back to the current novel, The Winter of Our Discontent.

This novel is about 300 pages long, and somehow it took me MUCH longer to read it than I anticipated. Unlike other novels that may be described as “quick reads,” I found myself really taking my time in finishing this. I wanted to appreciate the prose that, although lengthy, really are beautiful.

What I love most about Steinbeck’s writing is that he often describes the landscape or environment in order to provide a deeper reflection of a character. This is definitely so with Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of the novel. He is a man who comes from a family who lost their wealth and is a grocery clerk. The basic gist of the story is the process from which Ethan goes from accepting his poverty to taking major, and risky, steps to regaining his lost wealth. He has a wife, Mary, and two kids. They factor in the story heavily as you might imagine.  Ethan goes to great lengths– which most people would likely deem immoral– to make his family happy (through $). The story comes to a head at the end, when Ethan realizes what he has done… I won’t say more in case you read the book =)

This was Steinbeck’s last novel, published in 1961, which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for writing. It’s on par with Grapes of Wrath as far as literary depth. I highly recommend if you enjoy Steinbeck.

Overall rating 4.5/5

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